It's worth checking out the local public-access cable channel at least occasionally to see gems that shine with down-home earnestness not always visible on national networks.
Program hosts who are also our neighbors introduce small business owners, demonstrate recipes, share health information, talk about hot-button topics and showcase people with interesting jobs or talents. Hip-hop music discussions even have a home here.
These half-hour shows, taped on location or at a Bloomfield Hills studio with trained volunteer technicians, have varied levels of pacing and liveliness. What all share is a distinct sense of place, folksiness and sincerity that contrasts with slicker productions that have big budgets, big studios and big-city hosts.
Below are 10 series from Bloomfield Community Television on Channel 18 for Comcast and Wow! customers in Birmingham, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms and Franklin. They're on Channel 15 in Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Hills. AT&T U-verse customers can tune to Channel 99. In addition to times shown, each show repeats late at night and during weekends on the 24-hour channels. Schedules are posted here each week.
1. Elizabeth's Kind Cafe: Former attorney Elizabeth Katzman, a Birmingham parent with two young sons, focuses on "green" living and vegan recipes during polished interviews in her kitchen with chefs, gardeners, entrepreneurs, executives, animal rights advocates and nutritionists. The name of her program and web community refers to "being kind to ourselves, the environment and animals," she says. Her site has a video archive, and one from this summer is embedded below the photos above. Mondays at 11:30 a.m., Fridays at 4 p.m.
2. Real People: As we know at Patch, everyone has a story and some of the best involve ordinary folks who don't seek attention. Finding them also motivates Dwight Presser of Bloomfield Township, who launched this distinctive show last year with a simple description: "Ordinary people with interesting lives share their stories." Studio and location interviews have introduced a knife-maker, butcher, personal trainer, composer, landscaper, plumber, electrician, artist, archer, violinist, lake dredger and Bloomfield Township fire captain. Video archive link. Tuesdays at 5 p.m., Thursdays at noon.
3. Five Star Cooking at Home: This is our area's version of a Food Network show. John Prepolec of Bloomfield Township, a graduate of Lahser High School and the University of Michigan, calls himself Johnny Prep as he shows how to prepare risotto, cioppino, chicken Milanese, a seafood medley and lasagne with grilled vegetables. Those May-July shows, plus earlier episodes, are here. Mondays at 8:30 p.m., Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. (Related program: Flavor Secrets with chef Lynn Miller, Mondays at 7 p.m. and Friday at 5:30 p.m.)
4. Michigan Entrepreneur: Business coach and consultant Tara Kachaturoff of Birmingham, a former corporate accountant, speaks with startup founders in the fields of energy, technology, e-commerce, retailing, consulting, small manufacturing and professional services. Guests share visions, challenges and success stories in presentations that mix case studies with marketing pitches. Watch past videos. Tuesdays at 11 a.m., Thursdays at 7 p.m.
5. Jack Frost Show: These niche programs seem to hit every interest, and the eclectic lineup includes interviews by a Flint hip-hop producer and artist manager named Jack Frost. Guests include recording artists, comedians, youth groups, promoters and music journalists. Dozens of 2010-11 videos are saved, and one is embedded in the box with this column. Wednesdays at 10 p.,m. and Thursdays at 12:30 p.m.
6. Dining Out: Local restaurants are visited by Jonathan Swift, who has showcased the , and . Catch past dining room interviews and watch new ones at 9 a.m. Wednesdays or 9:30 p.m. Thursdays.
7. Art and Design: John Sauvé of Brighton, a sculptor who is curator of Birmingham's public art installations, interviews Michigan visual artists, performers and arts administrators. See archived shows online and future segments at 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays or 9 p.m. Thursdays.
8. County Corner: Marcia Gershenson of Franklin, a county commissioner since 2005, examines Oakland issues with judges, Congressman Gary Peters, environmentalists, health specialists, social service providers, ethnic group representatives, nonprofit leaders, women's groups and others. Nearly three dozen 2010-11 programs are online, while fresh ones air Mondays at 11 a.m., Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
9. Practical Law: Family law attorney Henry Gornbein of Bloomfield Hills has hosted this show since 1997, interviewing other lawyers, judges, prosecutors and occasionally journalists. Among provocative topics this year were sexting, divorce, privacy, medical marijuana, free speech, fraud, workplace harassment, bullying, child custody and drunk driving. Those videos and dozens of others from 2010-11 are at Bloomfield Community Television's site. Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m., Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. (Related program: Michigan Divorce Matters with Bloomfield Hills mediator Robert Hack, airs Mondays at 12:30 p.m., Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.)
10. Senior Matters: Greg Jamian, a former county commissioner who now heads a Troy home health care company, speaks with local geriatric experts about identity theft, nutrition, hearing loss, mature workers and joint replacement – all topics this summer. Earlier programs focused on social networking, athletic activity nutrition, back pain and Social Security. Mondays at 9 p.m., Fridays at 9 a.m. (Related show: Graceful Aging, hosted by Birmingham attorney Gregory Bator, airs Wednesday at 8 p.m., Fridays at 10 a.m.)
If you want to apply to produce a show, see program development information and attend the next two-hour workshop Oct. 5 at 10 a.m. or 6:30 p.m.
Correction: The number of children listed for Elizabeth Katzman was incorrect in the original version of this report.